When you think of workplace injuries, you might automatically consider things like falls and similar incidents. Those types of injuries are common in many industries, but people who deal directly with patients in a health care setting face a unique hazard: They are at risk of suffering harm when they have to lift their patients.
Musculoskeletal injuries are the primary risk that nurses face with each shift. Some hospitals and other facilities have mechanical lift devices that can help with patient transfers. This takes the stress off the workers, but not all facilities have them readily available.
Some facilities rely heavily on team lifting to get patients moved. While this does help with the weight that has to be lifted, it comes with some risks of its own. It’s possible that one person might have a greater share of the weight, which puts more strain on their body. There aren’t any easy answers for nurses who don’t have mechanical devices to assist with lifting patients. There’s always a chance that trying to lift, even as a team, can lead to serious injuries. In some cases, the injuries might not be apparent right away.
Lifting patients on a consistent basis can lead to wear and tear on the back and knees. It’s possible that the nurse or other employee may suffer a cumulative trauma injury instead of a sudden onset injury. At first, these injuries may feel like aches, but as the body continues to suffer under the strain of lifting, the damage progresses.
Some employees who are harmed when they have to lift patients will need medical care and may not be able to return to work right away. Workers’ compensation coverage is meant to help cover the medical costs and a portion of the missed wages for these workers.